If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back (v.15).
On October 25, 2010, an earthquake created a tsunami that left hundreds of people missing or dead in Indonesia. The deaths could have been prevented or minimized if the tsunami warning system had been working properly. The tsunami detection network consists of two buoys designed to measure unusual waves and send signals inland—alerting people to imminent danger. But the buoys had become detached and drifted away, failing to warn people of the approaching tsunami.
In Matthew 18:1 Jesus said that His disciples had a responsibility to alert fellow believers to spiritual danger by confronting sin (v.15). He outlined a four-step process to confront sinning believers and restore them to fellowship. When a believer in Jesus became aware of sin in the life of a fellow believer, the first step was humble, private confrontation. Private confrontation indicated deep love for the sinning brother and a desire not to humiliate him. If he repented then he would be restored. If he refused then the second step was private confrontation with witnesses (v.16). These unbiased, uninvolved and honest witnesses would confirm attitudes and actions of the sinning brother and the confronter.
If the sinning brother did not repent the matter was brought before the church (v.17, probably the assembly of the disciples). If he refused to listen to the church and repent of his sin, then he was to be treated like an outsider, having community fellowship removed from him. Though community fellowship was removed, he was still loved and the door of restoration remained open.
As followers of Jesus we’re called to protect the purity of the church. We do this by lovingly alerting fellow believers to the dangers of unrepentant sin. We must humbly address and resolve the matter with the least amount of publicity as possible.
Read Joshua 7:1 to discover the effects of one man’s sin on his entire community.
What is the best way to confront someone regarding sin? Is there someone you need to alert? What will you do to protect the bride of Jesus from sin?